It’s the first Wednesday of the month again, time for a post for the Insecure Writer’s Support Group.
OPTIONAL AUGUST QUESTION: What are your pet peeves when reading/writing/editing?
MY ANSWER: As a reader, I have several pet peeves. One of them is probably the strongest: I dislike cliff-hangers in the end of the books. When I open a book, I expect the story to be contained inside its covers. When it isn’t, when the story stops in mid-stride on the last page, it is either the writer hasn’t done her job properly, or the marketeers prevailed because they think the cliff-hangers will sell the next novel. In my case, it is not true. I usually stop reading the series if I stumble on a cliff-hanger. I’m so resentful of the author for ignoring my expectations and not finishing the story, I don’t want to read her next book.
I had an interesting experience lately. I sent a short story to a sci-fi anthology. Got a rejection – nothing strange about that – but the rejection itself was worded as an invitation. The editor of the anthology said that they couldn’t use my story but he would like me to write a new story specifically for their anthology. The detailed descriptions of what they wanted – the world and the possible situations they wanted to explore – were attached to the email.
I tried. I really did, but nothing in their suggested world or story ideas appealed to me. I couldn’t write what he wanted, couldn’t come up with an appropriate character, so I sent a polite ‘No’ a couple days later.
The entire experience upset me. As a journalist, I routinely write on spec. All my articles comply with my newspaper’s mandate, style, and word count. I also recently wrote a fan-fiction story, using another writer’s world, although the events and the characters in that story were my own. I put the story, Five Days of Elf, on Wattpad, and it’s steadily gathering readers.
But aside from that one story, I’ve always had trouble writing fiction on spec. A few times one of my stories was included in an anthology were if I already had a story, and it fit the anthology theme perfectly or with minor alterations.
Why couldn’t I write a new story from scratch to this editor’s anthology specs? Why can’t I write fiction on spec in general? Am I not professional enough? The world the editor came up with was fascinating, and the situations fraught with all sorts of conflict. Why was this challenge so hard for me?
Can you write fiction on spec? How often do you do it? What is the best approach, in your opinion? Tell me in the comments.